Saturday, May 19, 2012

Better than Tuna Salad

I am always looking for healthy alternatives to the foods I enjoy.  Recently, I've been reading a lot about the benefits of a plant based diet.  A diet free of animal products boasts a lowered risk of every disease imaginable including heart disease, cancer, arthritis, allergies, inflammation, and pretty much anything that ails and/or ages you.  AND it's better for the planet.

For me, getting healthy is a must.  I am closing in on 42 years in this body and some days, particularly days I eat poorly, I feel significantly older.  Heart disease, diabetes, and cancer run in my family.  I've recently added blood pressure medication to my daily regime, Omar is on meds for high cholesterol, and we both need to drop some significant weight and raise our energy levels if we want to live a long and happy life together doing things we enjoy.

Thursday night I came home and asked Omar if he would mind if we started reducing the amount of meat and animal products we consume with the intention of eventually completely cutting these things out of our diets. (maybe)  I was prepared for a bit of a fight.  This is a man who loves his food!  I briefly explained the health benefits and ( I love my husband so much)  his immediate response was, "Ok, great! When do we start?"  Seriously, no arm twisting at all.  I'm a lucky girl.  So I got together a few recipes I wanted to try and today we did our usual shopping, only we didn't purchase ANY meat.  (don't worry, our freezer is still stocked with plenty of chicken, ground beef and ground turkey.  I said gradually)

My first recipe was a success!  If you like Tuna Salad you will love this VEGAN version.  Yes, I said vegan!  Absolutely NO animal product.  AND it's super low in points!  Try it out.  I promise you will love it. Omar said it tasted a lot like tuna salad and was surprised when I told him there were no eggs in it.  He didn't even miss the mayo! 

Better than Tuna Salad

4 teaspoons Tahini*
2 teaspoons plain non-dairy milk (use regular milk for a non-vegan version if it's what you have)
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon soy sauce (recipe calls for tamari, but I didn't have any)
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon kelp granules (I didn't have these so I left them out)
1/2 teaspoon pure maple syrup
pinch of sea salt (I used Kosher salt)
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 cup cooked chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 stalk diced celery
1/2 apple, diced (I used a Fuji apple)
**The recipe called for the these 3 items, but I guess I was hungry and totally forgot to put them in.  I will add them next time, but the salad was delicious as I made it.
     2-4 tablespoons diced green or red bell pepper
     2 teaspoons capers
     1-2 teaspoons fresh parsley, chopped

In a bowl, whisk together the tahini with the milk, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, tamari, mustard, kelp granules, maple syrup, salt, and pepper.  Add the chickpeas to the bowl and mash slightly with a fork or potato masher leaving some of them intact.  Add the rest of the ingredients and mix.

I served it on whole wheat bread with baby carrots and the rest of the apple.

I made 2 large sandwiches with enough left over for a 3rd smaller, but still generous sandwich.  The entire batch has only 10 WWPP.  It was very filling, but not heavy.

*Tahini is sesame paste.  You can usually find it with the olives, with other Mediterranean foods, or sometimes in the produce section.  It is used to make hummus and other Mediterranean foods.

Try it and let me know what you think!

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